Let’s take on the steps to stencil a wood sign! This post is a step-by-step tutorial showing how to make a festive piece that’s perfect for the modern farmhouse.
I’ve had a post about how to stencil a wood sign on my mind for a LONG time. In fact, the reason I’ve finally tackled this fun project is thanks to the Facebook Group “The Great Create Challenge.” Perhaps this was a little self-serving?
Maybe so, but I had so much fun painting for the Blogger DIY Challenge in November that I wanted another excuse!
The Great Create Challenge is a new group that is for those of us who love to be creative. On an on-going basis, a prompt is given for the members to solve in their own way. The current one is called “Christmas Re-Imagination”. We are tasked, in this challenge, to re-purpose, refresh, or renew a jewel in the rough to become the perfect holiday decoration.
Open is the way that the creativity will flow! Painting, sewing, cooking, building, writing, or anything that interprets the response in each person’s own way.
For my part, I’m giving a go at making a wood sign with a stencil I’ve designed for my Cricut Maker. The reason this is a “re-purpose” is because the wood base of the project has been tucked away in my studio for a couple years after a FAILED attempt to stencil it. I’ve been looking at it for too long and this is exactly what I’ve needed to re-focus and make my wrong into a right!
In addition to my project, at the bottom of the post, I’m giving the opportunity to others to share THEIR response to the Christmas Re-Imagination challenge. If you’re in the group, add your photo or post, if applicable, to the link party!
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
The materials and supplies for this project
I’m trying a few different techniques that I’ve been curious about. These include glazing and using fabric on wood. Fingers crossed as I’m writing this AS I complete this project (as opposed to after it’s finished). This is going to be like a journal of how this project progresses.
First the wood sign supplies
Okay, I just realized that I need to clarify this project a little bit. I’m adding feet and making this into a raised tray. BUT, I’m guessing that more people are just going to want to make a wood sign, so I’m calling it that even though I’m adding feet.
The process will be the same, except for the feet (is that redundant?).
The paints and glaze I’m using are:
- Benjamin Moore Ben Interior Paint – Eggshell (W626)
- Folkart Acrylic Craft Paint – Black
- Valspar Clear Mixing Glaze
- Krylon KSCB026 Short Cuts Brush-On Paint, 1-Ounce, Gloss Black
- Artistro Paint Pens
- Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish – Gloss
Miscellaneous supplies and tools are often from my stash. The exact or similar items include:
- Cricut Maker
- Cricut Basic Tool Set
- 3M Assorted General Purpose Sandpaper
- Minwax Polyurethane Trim-Black China Bristle Blend Brush
- Craft Paintbrush Assortment
- Bristle Stencil Brush Set
- Mixing Sticks
- Tack Cloth
- Oracle Oramask 813 Stencil Film
- Tapeman Blue Transfer Tape
- Metal L Square Ruler
- Mod Podge
- Cotton + Steel Black & White 2017 Chimes Natural Fabric
- Cordless Drill
- Wood Glue
- Canvas Drop Cloth
- Rubber dots made for cabinets
The stencil “Merry Everything and Happy Always” is a design I made from a quote I find amusing. I’m providing it for you to make this project. Please only use it for personal purposes. Commercial use is prohibited. Thanks for understanding!
You can open it in Cricut Design Space.
If you don’t have a Cricut Maker, think about getting one. I have a post detailing the essentials to buy and some projects to try.
Not ready for THAT yet? You can print it as a PDF on cardstock, trim it, and trace it. Here’s the file for you to use. You might need to have it printed on a large format printer at an office supply store or shrink it to fit your printer.
That’s it! I believe we’re ready to move on to making this bad boy!
Prepping our wood
Since I had a FAIL on my last project with this piece, sanding was required. I mean, sanding is always required but I don’t always do it as diligently as I need to in THIS case, given the existing stencil painted on the board.
After that, I applied two coats of Benjamin Moore Ben Interior Paint – Eggshell (W626) from a prior project and let it dry. Fortunately, I’m working in our sunroom so I had a portable heater going. This is turning out to be a blessing as I’m able to move it near my work surface and drying times are minimal.
I also am painting the wood knobs with a glossy black Krylon KSCB026 Short Cuts Brush-On Paint. Judge me, but whenever I use this paint, I’m glad that I buy cheapo craft paintbrushes in a multipack. That way, I don’t need paint thinner to clean my paintbrush. I just throw them away.
Note: I actually really like these less expensive paintbrushes. I have some that are more on the specialty side and I don’t like them nearly as much!
The wood knobs also are receiving two coats of paint.
Painting the stencil
The stencil is being cut using my Cricut Maker. The maximum width is 11.5″ so I’m dividing up my graphic into two pieces.
In order to center it properly, I’m first taping the two pieces together and drawing center lines on the transfer tape with a Sharpie. This is a great way to line up the centers.
Center marks also go onto the wood board using pencil and a metal L-square ruler.
Once they’re all lined up, I lay down the first part.
How NOt to stencil
I’ll be totally honest with you, as the first attempt to stencil this piece of wood serves as a testament, I’m not a great stenciler. Not that I don’t do it, but I’m always rushing and frequently have bleed because I apply too much paint.
You are probably thinking, oh just use a dry brush. Done that.
Use a smooth roller. Tried that too.
Stipple with a stencil hard bristle brush. Yuppers.
I’ve finally come up with a technique that works for me. I stipple with a dry bristle brush. Lightly paint with a dry paintbrush to smooth it out (I don’t really like the look of stipple strokes.). Then, when the stencil film comes off, don’t be alarmed by the bleed.
It’s going to be there. It’s becoming part of my process.
The solution? Paint pens.
I simply go around the parts I stencil (after the stencil film is removed) with the paint pen and clean it up. Even better, as I’m doing today, distress it. The sanding hides many of the evils documenting my poor skills.
What I wasn’t expecting, was how the red paint pen bled under the stencil film. It wasn’t a big deal as I just touched it up. But I didn’t think that would happen. Note to self, only use paint pens free-hand.
Time to sand again. The proper technique is to change to finer sandpaper at this point. I do sometimes and don’t at others.
To get a little bit of the center distressed more, I took a metal Cricut spatula and scrapped at the paint a bit, and then sanded more in that spot.
Now I’m ready for the glazing. I’m so excited and nervous. I like how it looks just like this but I’ve really been waiting for a project to try out this glaze medium so it’s happening!
time to glaze
I’ve been waiting to do this ever since reading the post by my blogging friend, Jennifer Howard’s, link in our first Blogger DIY Challenge. In her post, “Christmas Tray | DIY” she transformed a bright green paint into something really interesting to me. Take a look at this blog hop DIY challenge.
The only question for me was the color. I initially made my graphic to have a black background as you can see here:
Side question, which one do you like best? I couldn't decide so I asked my Facebook Groups, friends, and family. The bottom left won but the top right came in a close second. I'll probably make a pillow out of that one.
Okay, back to glazing. As I researched how to glaze, I only saw glazing dark over light colors. I went to see what paint I have on hand and am going with a white base (as I painted already) and a black glaze.
Following the directions (well, sorta) I’m a bunch of glaze with some paint. It’s supposed to be anywhere from a 4-8:1 ratio glaze to paint. Yet, like cooking, I’m just eyeballing it.
It’s thicker than I expected at this initial point.
Continuing on with blind faith, it’s still thicker than I thought so I’m recalling how some people wipe off the glaze.
That’s what I’m doing too and it’s working pretty well.
Except for where I gave some extra sanding and scraping. See how you can see where I didn’t perfectly sand in the same direction (another lesson learned) and also how much smoother the glaze is on these spots.
Ignorance is bliss I guess because I’m sanding it some more. I’m not sure if this is okay per the glazing police but it worked!
I love how it looks!
Mod Podge the underbelly
Why, you’re probably wondering, am I bothering to add a fabric detail on the underside of this board? Excellent question!
Just another something I’ve wanted to try and this seems like as good a time as any. Since nobody will see it a great deal, no harm if I don’t like it. If it turns out great, then what cool extra attention to detail!
I’m tracing around the tray on my fabric to get the right size. Cutting out the circle. Then I’m thinking time-efficiency and just pour Mod Podge onto the board. More specifically, pouring too much Mod Podge on the backside of the wooden board. With a paintbrush and a prayer, I’m spreading it out as I hope that the fabric will stay smooth and absorb the glue. It turns out okay at this point. Not loving it yet but maybe in a while when it’s dry.
This I let dry for about 2 hours.
My opinion. Not super impressed. I feel like this fabric (that I really like, btw) now looks discolored. I’m kind of glad that nobody will see it. Never hurts to try!
adding the round knob feet
As I’m really excited about how this tutorial about how to stencil a wood sign is going, I’m about to try another something new that has the potential to ruin it all. That is, adding these black round feet to the bottom.
I took a few minutes while the Mod Podge is drying to write with white paint pen a few little positive sentiments on them. Let that dry and am heading upstairs to add them to my tray.
First, I’m drilling the holes for the wood dowels.
Then I’m painting Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish – Gloss all over the fabric. And then, gluing in the dowels attaching the feet.
I flip the whole thing over and finish applying the Minwax on the top and sides.
It’s at this point that I realize the feet aren’t completely flush with the bottom of the wooden board. Shoot!
Now with everything wet and the feet glued, I’m stuck with it.
Next time, I’ll only add the feet when I can handle the board to make sure that I have the feet flush AND level. Yeah, I forgot that too. Right now the first coat of Minwax is drying upstairs in my sunroom and I have no idea if it will be level. Cross your fingers with me!
In 3 hours, when it’s ready for another coat, we’ll see if it’s level. I think I’ll add some caulk around where the round wood knobs join to the wood board and then paint them black. While this won’t help if it isn’t level, it will take care of any visual cues that I didn’t get them flush.
When I go back up to check the Minwax, I discover that the glue didn’t hold the feet on and I can take them off. With a little work, I redrill a bit and get them so they can go flush. BUT, I’m waiting to add them until the second coat of Minwax is dry.
Another light sanding, coat of Minwax, and wait.
When that’s all dry, I’m adding some little rubber dots made for cabinets to the bottoms of the wood knobs.
Sealing and protecting
As I mentioned, I’m using Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish – Gloss to seal and protect the board. This is really easy. Just brush on. Wait for 3 hours to dry. Sand. Brush on again. Wait. Repeat as needed.
I’ve lost daylight so I’m going to have to hold off on any more photos (I have yet to master nighttime photography).
The directions say that up to 6 thinly applied coats are okay. With the timing of this, I’ll get one more coat on and then do some final photos in the morning.
The result – how to stencil a wood board
I’m writing this before my project is finished. It’s dark out so I’ll get up early and take my final photos. I’m going to reflect back now on what I’ve learned.
- I still LOVE painting home decor. The transformations make me feel amazing!
- Stenciling and I have a way to go before we’re best buddies. I have three more reclaimed pieces in the garage waiting for me to keep practicing. Although by simply accepting that it’s not a perfected skill YET, I don’t feel stressed about it.
- The glazing is awesome! I just love how it came out. I’m definitely going to do more glazing.
- Trying something new, like adding wooden feet, is a learning process. Some wins and some fails but it’s all good in the end.
- 2021 is going to be the year of painted decor transformations. I can see the future and it’s a sure thing!
Okay, here’s how it looks!
What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments below! AND… if you do like it, please help spread the word about ASC. Tell your friends and family and add the graphic I’ve made for this post to one (or more) of your Pinterest boards!
Let’s see how our friends made out
Recalling what I shared in our introduction, this project is part of The Great Create Challenge Facebook Group‘s “Christmas Re-Imagination” prompt. Let’s see what some others came up with for their creative response.
This is so fun! I just LOVE these challenges and blog hops. As The Great Create Challenge is a new group, there aren’t a ton of links and images BUT just you wait. This type of fun is contagious. Are you curious to take part in this creative outlet yourself? Head over to The Great Create Challenge Facebook Group and join us!
If you enjoyed seeing these projects, take a look at some others:
- How to Make a Big Ribbon Bow the EASY Way
- How to Make Red, Black & White Minimalist Ornaments
- How to Use a Recipe for Salt Dough at Christmas
- How to Start a Cricut Maker Obsession
- How to Finger Knit a Chunky Bolster Pillow
- How to Thrift Flip a Long Denim Maxi Skirt
Still, want to see more? I have your back. Check out ASC’s Pinterest Boards, where there are always new pins happening! In fact, better yet, follow ASC on Pinterest so you know when I add more to my boards (I find great pins!).
Do you have a question or a suggestion? No problem! Email me with all of it and I’m happy to respond.
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Have a fantastic week! Namaste,